The bat is a cute and unusual animal that has a rather frightening name. These are small representatives of bats with red or brown thick fur, which can even be kept at home. They are completely harmless and prefer to settle near human settlements.
Origin of the species and description
Bats are a whole genus of the family of smooth-nosed bats (they are also called leather bats). The genus of bats includes five species.
They slightly differ from each other morphologically:
- forest bat;
- dwarf bat;
- Lesser bat;
- Oriental bat;
- Mediterranean bat.
Evolutionarily, bats are mammals, although at first glance it is not difficult to attribute them to birds. The cubs of bats and other bats, indeed, feed on mother's milk. Their wings are a flexible leather membrane stretched between elongated fingers. Thanks to such wings, these animals are capable of efficient flapping flight.
Also, bats are characterized by echolocation – the ability with which animals can find food in pitch darkness. In addition to bats, only cetaceans are prone to echolocation. Bats are one of the rarest groups in archaeological finds. We can only say with certainty that they arose no later than the Eocene, quickly occupied a niche in the food chain and remained almost unchanged in ancient times.
Batts and other bats became effective hunters who used resources inaccessible to other mammals . Consequently, bats had minimal competition for food, and thanks to their nocturnal lifestyle, they were also not afraid of predators threatening them.
Appearance and features
Bats have a flattened snout and short ears. The end of their nose resembles a snout, which is slightly bent forward. The wings are narrow, elongated, pointed at the ends. Bat species differ slightly from each other in size and nuances in color or wing structure.
The forest bat has short, stiff red hair with a lighter belly. Its ears are larger than those of other species, making it an effective hunter in forest conditions. The body length reaches 48 cm, and the wingspan is 23-25 cm.
The dwarf bat is the smallest representative of the bat genus. The maximum recorded body length of such creatures is 44 mm, which is almost a record among mammals. At the same time, dwarf bats have a wingspan of up to 22 cm, which allows these animals to be incredibly maneuverable, hardy and fast.
Interesting fact: An adult dwarf bat fits in a matchbox, and the baby in a thimble.
The small bat is slightly larger than the dwarf one – up to 45 mm. It is also distinguished by the color of the cheek area, which is lighter or almost white, in contrast to the red color of the pygmy bat. The Eastern bat is the lightest representative of the genus in color.
It also does not have large sizes – only up to 49 mm long, with a wingspan of 23 cm. The Mediterranean bat has a bright red color, black wings with dense skin and a white stripe that stretches from the tail to the wing membrane.
In general, bats are one of the smallest representatives of bats. Despite their “terrible” name, which many people associate with something mystical, bats do not make an impressive impression. They have small, round eyes, distinctly rounded ears, and small, unexpressed nostrils. All bats have rounded bodies covered with fur.
Now you know where the bat mouse is found. Let's see what she eats.
Where does the bat live?
Bat habitat scattered from the temperate latitudes of Eurasia to Australia and South Africa.
Many forest bats are found in the following places:
- Middle East.
Many bats prefer to settle near people, choosing anthropogenic habitats. For example, pygmy bats like to build homes under the roofs of houses, in sheds, or at least in caves or trees near villages and cities.
Many bats choose forest or mountainous landscape for their permanent habitat. They settle in hollows of trees or in dense crowns, where they hang on branches upside down. Bats are sedentary and always choose the same place as a refuge if they are not driven out of there.
Mediterranean bats like to settle at high altitudes – up to two and a half kilometers above sea level. Even large bats tend to settle in human buildings, which is why they sometimes cause inconvenience to people.
Most often, bats can be found behind architraves in buildings, in leaky walls, in abandoned wooden buildings, in crevices of stone buildings, in brickwork openings. Bats avoid cold regions, although large species can be found in Eastern Siberia. Some bat species tend to make short migrations during the cold season.
What does the bat eat?
Bats are predatory creatures, although they do not pose any threat to humans. These animals feed on insects, which they catch and eat right on the fly. For hunting, bats choose territories above water bodies where there are a lot of insects, as well as open edges in forests or agricultural fields.
Interesting fact: Bats know that near lamps in settlements in the evening there are many insects, so you can often see bats hunting right near the light sources.
Bats hunt exclusively at night. Flying fast, they make sounds with a frequency of 40-50 kHz, which allows them to quickly determine where the cluster of insects is. A flock of bats immediately flies to the prey and quickly grabs the victims on the fly, before they have time to scatter. Bats are extremely voracious. An individual weighing 40 grams can eat up to 30 grams of food.
Their usual diet includes:
- mosquitoes and flies;
- butterflies, moths;
- larvae of waterfowl.
Bats are also kept at home, while lizard food and a variety of insect feed mixtures are suitable for them. Bats are able to eat a lot, because these animals do not know the measure in nutrition, so there is a high risk of overfeeding the animal.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
Bats live in small flocks, which unite only for the breeding season. In general, bats adhere to their closest relatives – these animals are sociable and need constant company around them. Bats also hunt together. They make dwellings in trees, in crevices of rocks, caves and in human buildings. A small flock of bats does not build nests, but simply clings to any ledges and rough surfaces with its paws, hanging upside down.
Bats are not able to walk straight, but crawl along horizontal surfaces due to the lack of front legs – they are reduced into the wings. In general, the animals are quite shy. They fly into the air at the slightest approach of a person, completely unable to attack in response. Their only escape is flight, during which the bats rely only on strong wings.
During the daytime, bats sit in their dark shelters and sleep – their eyes are sensitive to sunlight, and because of their coloration and noticeable flight mechanics, they are extremely noticeable to predators. Therefore, the activity time falls at night – then the bats scatter in search of food.
Interesting fact: Bats are able to fall into a kind of hibernation – a stupor in which the animal remains conscious, but the metabolism slows down in his system.
They search for food using echolocation. Bats make low-frequency sounds that repel and return to various objects. So in the dark, bats can easily find flocks of insects, as well as detect predators and possible dangerous objects.
Social structure and reproduction
The breeding season starts as usually during the winter. If the species of bats does not hibernate during the winter, but leads a nomadic lifestyle, but mating falls precisely at this time. Females are grouped into huge flocks – up to a thousand individuals. They stick together in rock crevices and caves, constantly attracting males with their squeals.
The female chooses one of the flying males, after which mating immediately occurs, after which the female and male do not intersect. During the breeding season, males stay in small groups or fly apart from the rest.
Pregnancy lasts about 60 days. As a rule, the female gives birth to two cubs, but sometimes one or three. For about a month and a half, she feeds them with milk – all this time the cubs hold on to the arches of the cave or to the tree bark with tenacious paws, patiently waiting for the arrival of the mother from hunting.
If the baby falls, it is very likely to crash on the ground. The surviving after the fall of the cubs also die, because they still do not know how to fly. In general, bats rarely take off from the ground – they need to push off from a hill. Therefore, a bat that finds itself on the ground is doomed to death.
Bats are able to live up to 16 years, but in the wild they hardly live up to 5 years. They can breed by reaching the age of 11 months. After the first litter, females are able to breed continuously, only finishing one lactation and becoming pregnant again.
Natural enemies of the bat
Because of the nocturnal lifestyle, bats have few natural enemies. First of all, these are owls, eagle owls and owls, which have the same hunting area and the same activity time. Owls also have a similar way of hunting – they grab prey on the fly.
Batts are able to detect the location of predators using echolocation, and then bypass it. But owls often attack from a height, and bats fly close to the surface of the earth, catching insects. Bats simply do not direct their echolocation upwards, which makes them vulnerable to owls.
The owl dives from above and grabs the bat, instantly breaking its spine. This is far from a favorite delicacy of owls, so they attack bats only in case of emergency. The bone structure and skin of the bat do not make it a nutritious prey for predators.
Also, polecats, martens, weasels and other medium-sized ground predators can hunt bats. First of all, they willingly pick up fallen cubs and bats that have landed on a horizontal surface. Also, these predators are able to jump out of shelters – grass, snags, because of stones, when bats hunt low to the ground.
Batts do not have means of self-defense. Their fangs are only suitable for biting through dense insect chitin, and bats are not fast enough and agile enough to repel attackers.
Population and species status
Despite the fact that many species bats are classified as rare animals, bats do not face such a fate. Bats support huge populations, which have only slightly declined due to anthropogenic influence.
In the last decade, measures have also been taken to protect birds, which are associated with a reduction in chemical pollution of forest areas, due to which the population of bats has slightly increased. Nevertheless, the forest bat is listed in the Red Book in Sverdlovsk, Chelyabinsk, Nizhny Novgorod, St. Petersburg and some regions of Ukraine.
This is due to the following factors:
- the destruction of the natural habitat of bats due to deforestation;
- the destruction of bats along with animals and insect pests (for example, rats, which, like bats, can live in houses and other residential areas).
chemical pollution of the environment in these regions. This is due to industry or the development of agriculture;
The bat is a common animal that is usually very small. Fans of exotic animals even keep them at home, but bats are demanding on the conditions of detention, and they also need a special approach so that the animals do not get scared and do not bite the owner. But in general, these are friendly and shy animals that have long lived side by side with humans.